THE BLOG

Don't Throw Out Your Fitbit Yet - Just Make Sure It's Only Part Of Your Exercise Regime

02/03/2017 13:25

Wearable technology has taken a beating over the last week.

Hailed the hottest fitness trend of 2017 - its title has been dented by new analysis that claims some health apps can actually set dangerous targets, and are no more successful at achieving weight loss than traditional solutions.

However, consumers who have invested in fitness trackers need not fear they wasted their money. In fact, used as part of a broader fitness regime, wearable technology is a great tool for enhancing a workout and making the most of your training time.

But having an Apple Watch (which, I confess, I do) won't replace your workouts.

Wearable tech is rightly a leading trend. They can help to measure how effective your workouts are, and can arm people with better information on their health. What they can't do is replace hard work and determination, and they probably won't keep you motivated.

As founder and CEO of TruBe, an app that links up personal trainers to customers across London, I know there is only one magic ingredient to achieving health goals. It's motivation - and any method that lacks this fundamental element will be unsuccessful.

Fitness trackers are great for people already committed to exercise, and undoubtedly they change our awareness and accountability, but tech users are accustomed to ignoring computer-generated updates (just think about hitting snooze on your alarm vs. being woken up by someone) meaning wearable fitness tech is probably something we must already be motivated to respond to, rather than it compelling us to act.

There is also potentially a risk that fitness trackers encourage complacency in users. By reporting on all activity, including walking from the tube to the office, or perhaps taking the dog to the park, it could make a normal or low level of activity seem like an achievement.

The positive side of this is of course that we're witnessing a healthy culture-shift driven by tech. Even if people aren't technically exercising enough, UK consumers' interest in fitness tracking does show us that people are increasingly health-conscious and eager to be active.

Fitness technology has become increasingly popular recent years with British consumers purchasing an estimated three million tracking gadgets in 2015. This is more than double of the previous year. Tracking information like movement, steps and heart rate are all part of the quantified self movement which is quickly gaining in popularity.

But given the current limitations of technology how can people who have invested in a health app really get their money's worth? And when their biggest hurdle is getting started in the first place, where do they find the motivation they need?

I hand-select all of the personal trainers on TruBe, and one of the most important criteria for me is how effective they are in supporting our clients. Even though we deliver our service through innovative tech - the human component is irreplaceable in helping people achieve their goals.

Research suggests 50% of people starting exercise will drop out within the first six months. What motivates people to initiate a fitness programme and to continue comes down to a number of biological, psychological cognitive and emotional factors, but primarily people who think they can successfully do exercise means they're more likely to stick with the programme. Those who over-estimate their expectancies from exercise are the most likely to drop out. The influence of a personal trainer helps set realistic goals around weight loss and fitness goals - giving them a proper timeline - and empowers people to believe they can succeed.

One-size-fits-all mantras in health - as offered by some wearable tech - are not new, but the proliferation of technological solutions to all modern problems sometimes means the best solution is often overlooked.

First came 5 A Day. Then came the idea of doing 30 minutes of exercise a day. Then tech solutions arrived and it seemed as though consumers might have the 'key' to becoming fit.

Picking arbitrary and rigid health standards is probably not helpful given the complex interactions needed to be fit. We live in an age where the Human Genome Project is sequencing nucleotides to help us understand diseases unique to our DNA, with the aim of personalising treatment.

The future of fitness should be personalised, and will likely be more successful if people combine a range of strategies - including wearable tech - into their training regimes. So, don't throw away your Fitbit, but don't ditch those gym sessions either.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS